Parallel universes are a common trope in science fiction, and for good reason. The idea of a double — another you, but different — is rife with storytelling possibilities, but there are also tons of logistical plot holes and complications to be found if you think about the idea too much (see: Star Trek: Discovery’s Mirror Universe). Counterpart, a new drama premiering on Starz, bypasses these problems by having a unique premise and then largely ignoring the sci-fi elements in favor of being a really good espionage drama.

During a press event in September, Counterpart showrunner told Inverse the series is a riff on a Cold War-style spy series, only “instead of a Berlin Wall, it’s a metaphysical wall.” It’s a great elevator pitch for the first great series of 2018.

Howard Silk, played by J.K. Simmons, is a longtime, fairly low-level company man working at secretive United Nations bureaucracy in Berlin. His wife is in a coma, and he’s generally a sad sack. Everything changes for him when the higher-ups bring him in and let them know what they’ve really been doing this whole time. See, 30 years ago, something happened that created a parallel universe. Over the course of those three decades though, the once-identical worlds drifted apart, and are now very different places. Berlin is the only place where the worlds meet so people can cross over, and diplomatic relations between the two universes are tense.

This is all news to Howard, who is a confused, lowly peon. But, his opposite from the parallel universe (also played by Simmons), is very different. He’s high-level and confident in every way that our Howard isn’t and he’s coming to the other side because he’s worried about a conspiracy that threatens the stability of both Earths.

That sounds pretty high-concept, and to some extent it is, but Counterpart shines because it is utterly unconcerned (at least in the first six episodes Starz released to reviewers) with the logistics of how the parallel universe works. Instead, it’s concerned with the logistics of spycraft and bureaucracy. The other Earth is treated as though it were just a rival country. The no-frills approach to the central gimmick keeps the spy antics grounded, and it’s thrilling to watch Simmons, who is fantastic and distinct in his two almost identical roles, and Game of Thrones’s Harry Lloyd try to uncover the conspiracy in the shadows.

Harry Lloyd and J.K. Simmons in 'Counterpart.'

The one place where the show’s sci-fi element comes into play is on an emotional level. Even then, it’s not about the fantasy of parallel worlds but the much more personal fantasy of “what if?” Both Harolds are the same person, or at least they were, up until 30 years ago. Our Harold looks at his counterpart and knows that this confident person could’ve been him if his choices and the winds of fate had been just a little bit different. The other Harold looks at his weaker counterpart with some level of disdain, but can’t help but notice that this Howard and his wife are still together. It’s only human to wonder what could’ve been, and Counterpart takes this truth and makes it poignantly real.

As should be fitting an espionage drama that smartly updates the best of Cold War spycraft, Counterpart’s complex plot is full of thought-out twists and turns. The premiere, a tight, engrossing hour of television, starts small, but within a few episodes, you see that the series’ creators have created not one, but two fully realized worlds. Smartly, they dole that information out as needed, and always in service of the espionage plot or character development rather than just for the sake of the sci-fi gimmick. Counterpart deals with the harsh realities of diplomacy, paranoia, and regret with such intensity that you forget it’s technically a science fiction series, even as J.K. Simmons has another conversation with his parallel universe doppelganger.

Counterpart premieres on Sunday, January 21 at 8 p.m. Eastern on Starz.

Photos via Starz

Scary stories aren’t the stuff of campfires and sleepovers anymore. For adults who still enjoy a good spook, the internet is the place to turn for tales of horror and the supernatural.

Specifically, scary story fans us r/nosleep on Reddit to post their original horror stories and creepypastas — the legendary internet tall tales that bred iconic horror figures like the Slenderman. From quick, frightening anecdotal stories that you can read in under five minutes to lengthy series that will keep you up all night scrolling, the following are the 40 best-written, most iconic tales of horror you can find in the online depths.

Niantic announced a new Pokémon GO Special Research today and it’s all about Celebi. So if you missed out on your chance to grab the Gen 2 legendary during Pokémon GO Fest 2018 you’re in luck. Here’s everything you need to know about Celebi in Pokémon GO and what it might mean for that rumored Gen 4 release date.

Pokémon GO has been teasing the release of Gen 4 Pokémon for a while, but now it looks like it might finally be happening. The latest news comes from popular dataminer @Chrales and includes the disclaimer that we shouldn’t get “hyped too much,” but for any Pokémon GO fans that’s probably not going to be possible.

Nintendo finally put a whole bunch of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster rumors to bed on Wednesday, revealing two new characters and three more Echo fighters in a 30-minute Direct presentation. Now that the dust as settled, we figured it was worth taking a look back at some of the biggest leaks from over the past two months to see what was true and what wasn’t.

Wednesday saw the release of the Heavy Sniper Rifle in Fortnite: Battle Royale, T\the powerful new weapon can not only easily take out players with one shot, it can also decimate any object in its path. Naturally, Fortnite players are making full use of rifle’s potential.

The Fortnite: Battle Royale subreddit this week is full of videos that show players demonstrating the awesome power of the Heavy Sniper Rifle. No fort is safe from its incredible power, which makes the end of matches much tenser as the player with the weapon can destroy anything in between them and their opponents.